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PUBLISHED: 11:24 17 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:00 25 August 2010

Erith councillor Maggie O'Neill says: give Thames Gateway Radio sound back to Bexley

ALL the best DJs have a signature tune. Take Tony Blackburn, with the familiar bark of 'Dog' Arnold, and the catchy ditty. The same can be said about TGR Sound, north Bexley's own community radio station, which sadly closed in June.

Thames Gateway Radio was more than just an exciting radio station manned by some aspiring and talented DJs. It was a source of work experience for would-be media types, able-bodied and disabled. It accepted volunteers whose ambition was involvement in a radio station. In fact, some have hit the dizzy heights of Radio 1.

But most of all it epitomised the exuberant spirit of a young, enterprising group who wanted to expand their craft, to inform and to entertain the community. Funding came from lots of small projects, many initiated by TGR, but with a large starter grant from the government through the Thames Gateway Partnership. Obtaining a broadcasting licence was a nail-biting affair, but they overcome competition from 70 other groups to launch in November 2006.

Leader of the stalwart band of volunteers Andy Sayers - whose inimitable patter and unmistakable laugh have been listened to by tens of thousands at our festivals - has shown his serious commitment to the media industry. TGR had more than 14,000 listeners a week. But now the station has closed through lack of funds we have one less enterprise to send our work experience youngsters to, one less radio station to help with industry training and one less radio station to sing along to.

At a time when the austerity message is being forced down our throats, there must be organisations with a vision about community relationships to buck the trend and help give TGR a new lease of life.

After all, TGR has helped more than 300 community groups with publicity, boosted the coffers of many local charities and even commercial organisations, with vital information from stallholders at the Danson Festival, Erith Festival and many other venues. Even now, if you turn up at a community event you will probably find Andy and his friends behind the music. So roll up and give something back to TGR. You must agree that they deserve it!

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